Let’s talk about employee learning and development, and more specifically, how to create a successful learning culture that helps employees grow.
Creating a learning culture is not always a simple task and it doesn’t happen overnight, the benefits are worth it. Therefore, it is important to raise awareness of the impact of learning culture not only on employees but on the organisation as a whole.
This article reveals what learning culture means, the benefits of a strong learning culture in your organisation, and how you can use mentoring to create one.
What is a Learning Culture?
Before we can talk about how mentoring can create a learning culture, we need to look at what it really means to have an organisation with a learning culture. An organisation’s learning culture refers to a workplace in which learning, innovation and knowledge sharing are not only facilitated by the organisation but are generally strongly encouraged. This is the case when an organisation encourages employees to understand the organisation’s values, beliefs and practices while prioritising learning and development to ensure career progression and development.
An organisational culture that encourages learning encourages employees to do remarkable things, try new and creative ideas, share opinions, and learn from mistakes. Building a learning culture isn’t just about focusing on one or a few groups of employees, it’s about emphasising collaboration and teamwork so that all team members share knowledge on an ongoing basis. To build a learning culture, organisations should make resources and opportunities, such as mentoring, available to employees. If you want to know what your organisation’s learning culture looks like, take the sub-10 learning culture quiz.
What Are the Benefits of a Thriving Learning Culture?
A learning culture has a positive effect not only on employee learning and development but in all areas of the organisation. From increased retention to heightened profits, the benefits of building a learning culture are endless. Employers want to keep their employees engaged and motivated, with 76% of employees looking for opportunities to advance their careers and 94% saying they would leave their jobs if training and development opportunities were not provided, building a culture of learning should be a priority. The benefits of building an organisational culture of learning include:
- Improved employee performance: Unsurprisingly, when employees are actively encouraged and provided the right resources to learn and develop, the chances are they are more likely to enhance their current skill set whilst learning new ones along the way. With 69% of global employers saying it is difficult to find skilled workers, especially in high-demand sectors such as manufacturing, IT and marketing, organisations can no longer afford to miss out on this benefit.
- Increased innovation and adaptability: In an ever-changing world where the new business landscape is changing rapidly, it is more important than ever for employees to not only be innovative but adapt to the challenges they encounter. A good learning culture encourages employees to think outside the box and propose new ideas and solutions while adapting to the current business setting.
- Increased employee engagement: Employees are more engaged and dedicated to their role when they feel valued and that learning and development are a priority. With 94% of employees revealing that they would be willing to stay with an organisation that invested in their learning and development for longer. A learning culture also improves engagement by creating an environment where employees can freely share ideas without being judged or worried about negative consequences.
- Attract and retain top talent: Did you know that a learning culture can improve retention within an organisation and also help attract top talent? Organisations with strong learning cultures can improve retention by 30-50%. As mentioned earlier, employees are more likely to stay with organisations who are willing to invest in their progression and development. Also, it’s easier to attract talent to an organisation if they can see this is something you value.
- Gives you a competitive edge: One of the most important benefits of a strong learning culture is its ability to give your organisation a competitive edge. Because of all of the above and other benefits that come with building a learning culture, organisations that prioritise learning and employee development tend to be more competitive and successful in their industry, leading to things such as increased profits and increased productivity. In a competitive business environment, you need to stay one step ahead of your competitors.
Overall, organisations that encourage continuous learning and build a culture of learning not only improve the performance of their employees but also the organisation itself, leading to ultimate success.
What Is Mentoring?
Let’s talk more about mentoring, but first, we need to cover the basics. What even is mentoring? If you’re unfamiliar with the term, simply put, a mentor is someone who provides guidance and support to help another person progress, develop, and grow. Mentoring typically takes place between a more experienced professional and a mentee with less experience in a particular field or problem. However, many different types of mentoring can be used such as reverse mentoring and group mentoring. Mentors act as trusted advisors who share their professional skills and help mentees achieve career goals to flourish.
Mentors help identify the mentee’s needs and desires, develop plans, and find solutions to move forward. These relationships can be as informal or formal as the participants wish, can be structured or unstructured, and take place in a variety of settings. All mentoring relationships are unique to the individuals involved, but they have one thing in common. It’s about imparting knowledge, providing support, and helping mentees achieve their goals.
How to Use Mentoring Programs to Create a Learning Culture
Mentoring is a powerful tool that helps organisations create a strong learning culture. By providing advice, guidance and support to mentees, mentors can create a work environment where learning and development are valued and highly encouraged. As we’ve seen in the last few years, to remain competitive and successful, an organisation must be able to embrace change and remain adaptable. From the new world of hybrid work to new technologies unfolding, there is no denying the importance of being able to continuously improve, learn and adapt for organisations.
Here are 7 ways a mentoring program can help your organisation build a strong learning culture:
- Mentoring encourages continuous learning: If you want to create a culture of learning, you need to prioritise continuous learning across your organisation. This is where mentoring can play a key role in creating a learning culture because it does just that. Mentoring programs encourage employees to continue learning by allowing them to connect with people with more experience and knowledge. Mentoring motivates employees to learn and develop skills by working alongside mentors to keep up with the latest industry news, and best practices, and share knowledge.
- Mentoring drives feedback: Learning and feedback go hand in hand. Feedback is an essential part of learning because it allows you to discover your strengths and weaknesses, where you need to improve, and what you need to learn. Mentoring helps shape and create not only a learning culture but also a feedback culture. A good mentor’s role is to provide feedback to the mentee on areas for improvement and help develop strategies to address them. Feedback is also a two-way street in mentoring relationships, with mentees being responsible for providing feedback to their mentors to help them expand their mentoring skills and support more mentees in the future.
- Mentoring reinforces positive learning behaviours: Mentoring is a great way to reinforce positive learning behaviours in participants, which helps create a strong learning culture. In a mentoring relationship, the mentee is held accountable by the mentor, who encourages the mentee to take full responsibility for their learning, development, goal setting, and progress tracking. When this behaviour is encouraged, employees have a better learning experience.
- Mentoring promotes Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I): Workplace learning is not only about learning the latest technologies and skills but about the cultures and experiences of your colleagues and those around you. Mentoring is a very powerful way to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Pairing employees with diverse backgrounds is a great opportunity to not only break down barriers to diversity and inclusion but also promote understanding across the organisation. Mentoring helps create a more inclusive work culture where everyone’s ideas, opinions and knowledge are valued, helping employees feel more supported in the workplace.
- Mentoring provides insight into the latest trends: By working together, mentees and mentors can stay ahead of the latest trends in their fields and industries. Whether discussing new approaches or the latest systems, mentors and mentees can gain valuable insight from each other.
- Mentoring provides networking opportunities: We learn best from each other. One of the main benefits of mentoring programs is that they allow employees to connect with others, even those outside the organisation. Networking is a great way to create a learning culture because the more information and knowledge employees can gather, the more they can share with their colleagues and bring to the organisation. While not required (but recommended), a mentor should not only help the mentee develop networking skills but also help build connections with other professionals in the same industry or field. Mentoring lets mentees communicate with previously inaccessible people within the organisation and empowers employees to share innovative ideas and solutions.
- Mentoring enhances the onboarding experience: To create a learning culture, you need to encourage learning from the onboarding process. Onboarding is a very important and excellent way to introduce new hires to important things such as the organisation’s values, beliefs and behaviours, while also outlining learning opportunities and employee expectations. Mentoring is an effective way to make the onboarding process seamless and help new hires adapt quickly to the organisation, reach their full potential, and stay engaged. The faster your employees adapt to the learning culture, the more likely they are to succeed.
A strong learning culture is critical not only to your employees but to the success of your entire organisation. With a strong learning culture, you’ll soon reap the rewards. From improving employee retention to bettering collaboration, learning plays a key role in employee growth and development.
As previously mentioned, mentoring can be used in multiple ways such as encouraging continuous learning, creating a culture of feedback, reinforcing positive learning behaviours, encouraging DE&I, providing insight into the latest trends, creating networking opportunities and enhancing the onboarding experience. By creating a culture where employees feel valued and supported, you can create employees who care about the success of the organisation and their colleagues.